Costa Rica 1: El Museo

Click the tower to see part of the collection.

Original Title: The Museo de Arte Costarricense

The Costa Rica Art Museum was inaugurated in 1978, and it is located in La Sabana Metropolitan Park, a short walk from our hotel. We beelined it to the park first thing on the first day for a wonderful introduction to the approximately 870 birds in Costa Rica and, after identifying 15 or so, noticed the unusual building with several sculptures in its fenced patio. We subsequently learned that the park is situated on the original location of the San José airport and the museum is housed in what was the airport’s control tower.

Click for an enlargement of this artwork.

The Museo de Arte Costarricense has been restored beautifully with remnants from its former life integrated into the salons. The permanent collection contains pieces from the XIX century to present time including drawings, engravings, paintings, sculptures, photographs and videos. What inspired this post is the truly stunning Salón Dorado (Golden Room) that used to be the airport’s “Diplomat” lounge. Its walls are covered by a mural constructed in 1939-1940 by Louis Féron Parizot (1901-1998), a French sculptor and silversmith who lived in Costa Rica for over ten years. The mural is made of stucco carved in bas relief and presents significant fragments of Costa Rican history going from the pre-Columbian era up to 1940 when the building was inaugurated. What’s missing in the photo is the grand piano in a corner and the only furniture we saw in the roughly 1600 sq. foot room. Imagine gazing through those (original) leaded windows onto anything but the beautiful trees and sculpture garden that have replaced the runways. Oh, for the life of a diplomat!

Click to see an updated collection of
Costa Rican birds.

Oh, the birds! Driving into town from the airport, we saw Muscovy ducks in a city pond. First thing this morning we saw clay-colored Robins and Great-tailed Grackles on the hotel grounds. During our walk to Sabana Park, we heard the ever-present Grackles and the enjoyed the delightful Ruffous-collared Sparrows. We later became great friends with the Kiskadees and, while Sooney was perched on a table composing herself a couple police officers sidled up and politely asked her to keep her feet on the ground. What followed was the Bronzed Cowbird, White-winged Dove, Anhinga, Hoffman’s woodpecker, Tropical Kingbird, Yellow Warbler, Yellow-throated Vireo, Summer Tanager (f), Baltimore Oriole, Blue-gray Tanager, and a flock of noisy green parrots that we’ve yet to ID. Not bad for a casual walk in the park.

The next day we visited Poas Volcano (Yellow-thighed Finch) and lunched at the Waterfall Park for a wonderful display of hummers. Those identified were Green Thorntail, Green-crowned Brilliant, Copper-headed Emerald, Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer, Violet Sabrewing. At the same park we saw Bananaquit, American Dipper, Slate-throated Redstart, Passerini’s Tanager, Silver-throated Tanager, and the Common Bush Tanager. Along the journey we saw TV’s, Black Vultures, and Cattle Egrets. Repeat sightings were Blue-gray Tanager, Kiskadee, Clay-colored Robin, Rufous-collarded Sparrow.